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The open-world nature of Paradise City should really be overwhelming. But thanks to the pure entertainment offered by Burnout Paradise I couldn't help but get stuck into everything on offer. Although I had reservations with such an open nature to a racing game I quickly found the multiple challenges fulfilling every petrol-head fantasy I had. With additional content broadening and deepening the experience further, this is without doubt an awesome racing experience.
Even though an open world racing game isn't exactly what I thought I wanted from the latest in the Burnout series. It turns out that it's exactly what works. Sitting down to start the game I immediately began trying the multitude of different races available. It was incredible seeing so much variety and content packed into this world. No matter where I was in Paradise City I could start a road rage, stunt run or a burning route within seconds.
This mix of racing styles worked incredibly well for me in the open-world environment. I must admit to being a traditional ‘laps round a track' racing fan. So this change to a compact metropolis and country hill world had me a little worried. But instead of my car or driver being the personality of the game it's the city that comes to the fore. Every street and back alley feels like it's been lovingly crafted and deliberately placed. Even when I'm not avoiding enemies in the marked man mode or smashing up rivals in the takedown race, there's a lot to keep me occupied.
From the obsessive trashing of the billboards and fences to the super jumps and handbrake parking - there is literally something for any occasion. With each road having its own time to it, setting new record times quickly became a dangerous obsession especially when competing with my son on-line. This made each road and intersection a new race in itself and whenever I was lost for something to do this more than filled the gap.
With each road having its own time to it, setting new record times quickly became a dangerous obsession especially when competing with my son on-line.
Even though the city is packed with things to do it does have a habit of feeling quite soulless on your own. As the offline multiplayer is handled in the Party Pack, Paradise City really comes alive when you go online. This was a simple matter of pressing the D-pad I was moved seamlessly into multiplayer. Having up to eight players cruising and bruising their way through the events is an amazing experience. What's even better is the freeform nature of this mode. As well as the pre-set events the host can setup unique races which, under my son's strict supervision, led to some crazy and lengthy car battles.
All these tools made me realise what a canvas this game is for the player. The fixed and rigid race conditions set by others games are gone. Now every shunt, crash, near miss or spectacular last second win is decided by me and the other players. Although it can be overwhelming having this much control - a fact my son still takes issue with - it leads to a far richer experience than the clichéd ‘three laps round a track' approach.
For a traditional racing fan to admit this shows what effect Burnout Paradise has achieved with me. Not only did I have the best racing experience both on and off-line but Burnout was quite easily my game of the year. This is partially due to the support shown by the developers with all the additional content that's been regularly provided.
This Ultimate Box edition adds a variety of those extras that were formerly available to download. New online challenges are included, essential when you play as much Burnout as I do. But the biggest addition are the bikes, which come with a ton of specific challenges and add a whole new driving perspective to the game. Along with them is a dynamic weather system and a day/night cycle. This builds up Burnout's atmosphere incredibly well and also adjust the amount of traffic encountered on the roads depending on the time of day.
This mix of major additions and minor tweaks, like an in-game browser, shows how much of a platform Paradise City has become. With new challenges, new cars and now an off-line multiplayer pack all offered I can easily see myself never touching another racing game for a long time. Both my son and I have restarted this game on multiple occasions to get that fresh feel of a new Paradise City. When a racing game has this amount of replayable value then I know it's a winner. I just wish I could find that last billboard.
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